Lake Pontchartrain (Images of America)



Jazz was born on the lake just as it was in the city. The introduction to the National Public Radio Review of the 20th Century's most important American musical works begins, "It was a lakeside summer spot in New Orleans that inspired the song that would become one of the world's great Jazz masterpieces. West End Blues was a sleepy southern blues tune written by Joe "King" Oliver, until it came into the hands of trumpeter Louis the late 1920's...and changed musical history."

Other local musicians who impacted music history and memorialized Lake Pontchartrain include: Leon Roppolo who began performing in Bucktown at age eleven and later formed the New Orleans Rhythm Kings who recorded Milenburg Joys in 1923; The great Ferdinand (Jelly Roll) Morton who wrote "Pontchartrain" (recorded in 1930) and recorded "Bucktown Blues” in 1924; The New Orleans Owls who recorded “Sailing on Lake Pontchartrain” and "West End Romp" in mid 1920’s

Early New Orleans jazz was heard at Milneburg where Buddy Bolden, the “Father of Jazz” as well as Sidney Bechet, Johnny Stein, Albert and George Brunies, Tony Parenti, Nick La Rocca, and Danny Barker played. Venues in Milneburg included Morgan's Saloon, the Joy Club, Romer's Café, The Inn, Quarella’s, Nick's Restaurant, The Lighthouse, fishing camps, dance halls, band stands, restaurants, roadhouses, picnics, and saloons. Spanish Fort’s most notable Jazz venues were Tranchina's Hotel Restaurant and Tokyo Garden where A. J. Piron’s orchestra played from about 1918 until 1923.

Tom Brown, who claimed to be the first person to use the word “Jass”, performed on the lakefront as well as on excursion steamers to the north shore. The Moonlight Serenaders, led by Alcide (Yellow) Nunez, played in Milneburg and Little Woods. Trumpeter Gustave Joseph (Sharkey) Bonano was born in Milneburg in 1898. The Halfway House Orchestra took its name from the dancehall so named because it was located halfway between the city and the lake on the New Basin Canal.

In Little Woods at Mama Lou's Herb Morand, Richard “Rabbit” Brown, and Louis “Kid Shots” Madison performed. During the 1940’s, a group of teenagers which included Frank Assunto, his brother Fred, and Pete Fountain played there for free meals – they would later be known as the Dukes of Dixieland.


Other books by Catherine Campanella:

Excerpts from New Orleans City Park (Images of America)

The Beginning
West End
Back to the Bayou
War and Peaceful Pursuits
Life on the Lake
Photo Gallery
More Lake Pontchartrain History

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A portion of the proceeds from the sale of this book is dedicated to the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation's efforts to rebuild the historic New Canal Lighthouse.

Contact Catherine Campanella